A national poll shows that confidence in America’s public schools is near an all-time low across political affiliations.
In Gallup’s annual survey assessing public confidence in national institutions, just 28% of Americans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in public schools. This is down 13 points from 2020, when 41% expressed confidence in the public school system.
The survey broke down the results by political affiliation, too. Among Democrats, 43% expressed confidence in public schools, down 5 points since 2020. Independents’ confidence dropped from 38% in 2020 to 29% this year. And Republicans’ confidence in public schools plummeted from 34% in 2020 to just 14% today. Half of Republican respondents reported “little to no confidence” in public schools.
Republican confidence in public education has been waning for decades and tends to be low when Democratic presidents are in office. However, a 12-point decrease in confidence between the end of Donald Trump’s presidency (29%) and today (12%), during the Biden presidency, is exceptional.
Gallup began polling America’s confidence in public schools in 1973, a year when Republicans and Democrats had a 1% difference in confidence levels. The average difference since is 7%. That makes this years’ 29% difference quite exceptional.
Yet the results are not unexpected as conservatives and liberals have clashed over public schools’ pandemic policies and controversial curricula over the past two years – policies and curricula liberals generally support but conservatives argue harm children.
With the new school year just weeks away and some large school districts already returning to controversial pandemic policies, education promises to be an important issue heading into the November elections.